The Importance of Taking Prenatal Vitamins on an Empty Stomach

Taking prenatal vitamins is very important to both prevent birth defects and keep you healthy while managing the demands of pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can upset your already delicate system, however, causing nausea and stomach upset. Though taking them on an empty stomach isn't necessary, some foods may interfere with the effectiveness of your prenatal vitamin.

Prenatal vitamins may upset your stomach. (Image: BHFoton/iStock/Getty Images)


In ideal circumstances, you take your prenatal vitamin either right before you go to bed or first thing when you wake up. This means your stomach is empty, so nothing interferes with proper absorption of the vitamins and minerals that make up the prenatal vitamin. This ideal isn't possible for some women, however. Besides struggling with morning sickness in general, many women find that taking a prenatal vitamin causes them to feel more nauseated, making it difficult both to swallow the pill and keep it down, according to BabyCenter.


If taking a prenatal vitamin makes you feel more nauseous, speak with your obstetrician. A variety of brands of prenatal vitamins make it easy to switch to one that may not trigger any queasiness. In addition, your doctor may recommend you switch the timing of taking your prenatal vitamin or may recommend one that has less iron -- which is often the cause of stomach upset -- as only 30 mg are required if you're not anemic, says BabyCenter. This may make it possible for you to take your prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach.


If having a snack is the best option for you, make sure you focus on foods that provide a health benefit. Juices with no added sugar or smoothies made without dairy are good alternatives. The juice adds liquid to your diet, which can help minimize constipation the prenatal vitamins may cause. Smoothies made with fresh or frozen fruit add fiber, which also helps with any potential constipation.


If taking your pill on an empty stomach simply won't work for you, make sure you avoid dairy products. Dairy products can interfere with the absorption of minerals and vitamins in the prenatal supplement. In addition, avoid taking the pills with soda, as the added sugar isn't part of a healthy diet.

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